Interview with Trine Wejp-Olsen
q) Introduce yourself first please?
a)My name is Trine Wejp-Olsen.
q) Where do you live and work?
a) I live in Santa Monica, California and work in an old hangar in the Santa Monica Airport that has been converted into a great studio space I am originally from Denmark – moved to the States in 1989, did a little bit of moving to Paris for a year and back to Denmark for a few years, until I ended up returning here to LA, …LA got into my blood stream, and we now get along really well.
q) How did you started? How have you realized you wanted to become an artist?
a)My Dad is a cartoonist (Werner Wejp-Olsen), and as he had his studio at home, growing up I watched him do his cartoons, and I guess the idea of becoming an artist for a living never seemed difficult or daunting…Being naive sometimes is a good thing.
So I quite early knew I wanted to be an artist, except from one month in 1981 when I flew for the first time, and briefly wanted to be a stewardess!
But the idea of being an artist who makes paintings and sculptures never occurred to me.
I knew I wasn’t going to be a cartoonist like my father, but the only other thing I knew of was to be an illustrator.
So it was with this in mind I started art school, Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.
The school has a bit of a boot camp first year, where they load a lot of work on you, and in as many disciplines as possible. I discovered within this first year that what I meant to do was to express my voice through imagery. I found it to be too limiting to be hired by someone else as an illustrator to express his or her point of view or need.
And therefore I ended up in the fine art department concentrating on painting instead.
q) What materials do you use and why?
a)I work with oil on canvas + watercolor, color pencil and sometimes milk paint on paper.
For sculpture work I use all kinds of materials, fabrics, plaster, and my last sculpture was a bronze.
q) Who is your biggest influence, both art and non-art related
a)For influences and inspiration I look many places.
I have greatly enjoyed looking at the renaissance painters, their lush colorful and muted canvases, the attention to detail, and some kind of narrative.
q) Are there any contemporary artists that you love?
a)Louise Bourgeois, Annette Messenger, Yoko Ono I greatly enjoy for their sculpture work.
q) How do you dream up with your wacky ideas? What is your creation process?
a)Although I am not an abstract, non-objective painter, I enjoy the handling of paint in purely abstract pieces, and this helps me to loosen up my own hand.
When it comes down to my work process, the initial idea and inspiration phase is still something I wonder about. It can take a long time or no time at all to get started.
But I will look through books. Lately I look at botanical drawings…and then mix it with images that pop up in my head, like a bird with a scull head. Don’t know where it comes from, but if I like I’ll use it. Sometimes I free hand on the canvas, other times I project, or I render from an image. I am never quite clear on the narrative, before I start, and not even quite when I am done.
I have a frame narrative for it, though. An example would be…this image is taking place at the crossroad between matriarchic and patriarchic societies….or the piece has an overall narrative of the power of nature. But then on the way, I come up with sub-stories that are to be found in the details. These are really not clear and they are what you make them to be. For me it can be specific at the moment and mean something else the next day.
q) What haven’t you done yet that you definitely want to try someday?
a)I definitely want to write a movie one day. I have no idea how, but I know I will.
q) How long does it take for you to finish a piece?
a)The time it takes to make a piece varies so much, especially as the process is happening on the canvas and not before hand. I allow mistakes to happen, either adjust them so they work or paint over if it is not helping the narrative. But I enjoy the layers a painting can have in this manner, much like random thoughts in our mind, some are productive, but some are just kind of there as extras…somehow I think they are needed to make the interesting ideas stand out by comparison.
If I were to condense the time spent on a piece I would roughly estimate 6-7 days on large canvases, 5-6 on mid size, 3-4 on smaller sizes, 1-2 on really small pieces.
q) What music, if any, do you like to have on while you're working?
a)I will listen to my I-Tunes, either on party shuffle or I will go to my embarrassing secret stash of very romantic and often melancholic music, such as Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, Leonard Cohen, …lately I am listening to Alela Dianne and Kashmir and Saybia, two Danish bands. Sometimes also classical music. What really matters is that it touches me..on the less romantic side, I also like the Dixie Chics these days, and I am a live long fan of David Bowie, especially his Ziggy Stardust days.
q) Do you do many art shows?
a)2007 was an exiting year for me in terms of exhibiting. Besides some nice group shows, I had my first solo show in New York at Nancy Margolis Gallery, and I exhibited with her at the Red Dot art fair in Miami, as well.
Currently I am working on new paintings, and I am also thinking of making some sculptures this time that I will be looking forward to exhibiting and hopefully together.
q) Tell us about a recent dream you had.
a)I haven’t been able to remember my dreams much lately. I do dream a lot, but they vaporize shortly after waking up. But I have had a strange thing happen to my while awake. I have seen falcons, two of them with a few days apart, and in very unlikely places, like on the side of the freeway, and on a pole again overlooking a busy street.
I made me think of making a painting about a Falcon, and have just finished “Falcon and the Elements, a 72”x 96” large canvas.
q) What are you doing when you are not creating?
a)When I am not in my studio working, I spend time with my boyfriend or with my friends, or simply I hang out with myself. I am never bored…
q) Do you get emotionally attached to your work and do you miss your work when it is sold?
a)I have no problem parting with a piece, after all they were created to find a way out in the world. I have images of all the pieces I make, so I can always revisit them.
q) What is your favourite art related web site?
a)My favorite art related website is kopenhagen.dk, a Danish website that keeps me up to date not only what is going on in Denmark, but also about fairs throughout Europe.
q) any advice you can pass onto aspiring artists/designers?
a)Advice for other artists? There is no right or wrong in art, so don’t be afraid of mistakes, they often turns out as successes.